What can bosses do to help working parents? Advice from 21 company heads

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How easy is it for women to have a fulfilling career and raise a family in today’s business world? What can bosses do to help working women?

Here’s what 21 family friendly employers in the US recommend…

It is much easier than in the past but still not as easy as it should be. Bosses should provide flexibility in the working hours and understand that women are often the most driven people in an organisation. The importance should be the results that they achieve and not the hours that they commit.

Daniel Ades, managing partner, Kawa Capital Management


How often do we ask men that question? There are career and family challenges for both men and women — they just differ in nature. Bosses can help all working caregivers by measuring results, not time in the office — give employees the freedom to work where and when they need to.

Christine Barney, CEO, RBB Communications


Today we are seeing more women with professional and business careers. I admire those who can balance their careers, which can be very demanding, and raise a family. Bosses must be flexible and understandable with employees who may need a personal day off for family matters. In return, she will appreciate her boss and be a better employee.

Richard Behar, founder and CEO, Capitol Clothing Corp.


Maintaining a profession and raising a family has never been an easy combination. However, for women and men who decide they want to maintain a career, not doing it is even harder. Bosses can greatly enhance a mother’s ability to raise her children effectively by giving her flexibility in the work place and understanding that it’s not as important how many hours it takes you do something but that you do it, you do it well, and you do it on time. From a mother’s perspective, it’s important to be clear on what your priorities are with the many demands that having a child will put upon you and be available to the things and at the times that are critical for you and your child knowing that you will not be able to be there for everything and every time. It’s embracing the concept of quality over quantity and having faith that your children will not only understand it but embrace it. In the end, I believe the children are more self-sufficient and independent, but I would be lying if I said that we didn’t miss some great moments along the way. In the end, as with all things, life is all about choices.

Alice Cervera Lamadrid, managing partner, Cervera Real Estate


Money makes every scenario possible. It is easy to have it all when you can afford to outsource certain aspects of life. I had a woman boss once who had her nanny come to the office every day so she could have lunch with her 3-year-old. She did this because her daughter would otherwise never see her as she worked late hours regularly. She taught me that raising children was about the quality time you spend with your child not the quantity. She always said her career came first because it made her happy and happy mums have happy children. Bosses need hardworking consistent employees. I do not believe it is up to the job to provide anything other than pay and necessary leave. Systemically, salaries for women need to rise to be compatible with their male counterparts, and both should match inflation so women can outsource ancillary activities as needed.

Pandwe Gibson, executive director, EcoTech Visions


The question should be how difficult is it for women to do both, as it is far from easy. Women have to be master jugglers managing many competing demands and priorities between work and family. Bosses can help by allowing some scheduling flexibility.

Julie Grimes, managing partner, Hilton Bentley Hotel


I’m fortunate enough to have an amazing business partner and husband. We’ve had to make major adjustments since our daughter was born, and although our careers offer some flexibility, it has not come without major sacrifice and challenges. I think women can have fulfilling careers and families, but you have to have a freaking amazing support team and create a new normal that includes saying no to people more than you say yes. Employers can aid in that by offering more flexible work schedules that take the guilt out of feeling like you have to always choose between your child and your career.

Felecia Hatcher, co-founder of Feverish Gourmet Pops


It is NOT easy for working women to have a fulfilling career while raising a family. The BEST bosses are helping by offering flex-time to mirror school/childcare needs, telecommuting one or more days a week if at all possible, opportunities to earn extra PTO as a bonus for exceeding goals or productivity, allowing desk lunch in exchange for an early departure or late arrival, childcare expense reimbursement for business travel, extra PTO for overnight business travel, sick kids room on-site for minor illnesses and just an openness to discuss how life could be easier. Why does a career woman have to act like she is childless to get ahead? Why are children seen as a hindrance? Attitude adjustment time!

Ann Machado, founder and president, Creative Staffing


It’s difficult to juggle raising a family and working full-time. Bosses can help by being understanding when women require time for family matters.

Victor Mendelson, co-president, HEICO


As someone who was raised by a single working-mother and has a wife working in finance with two young children, I appreciate the importance of work-life balance. The best thing employers can do to help women fulfill their career goals is to offer flexible schedules.

Nitin Motwani, managing principal, Miami Worldcenter Associates


I was raised in a family of working women, and to this day my Sushi Maki partners/investors are strong women: my mother, sister and wife. We have to create, support and sustain environments that value women. Flexible scheduling and awareness of peak family/school seasons go a long way to helping working mums keep the balance. Anything we can do to support mothers is good for families and good for business.

Abe Ng, founder and CEO of Sushi Maki


As a husband of a working mother with an infant, this is an extremely difficult task. Whatever choices the family makes, they are the right ones for them. To increase shareholder value, a boss should be seeking out the most talented people and allow as much flexibility as the business allows to attract and retain those individuals.

Todd Oretsky, co-founder, Pipeline Brickell


This issue has gotten better in the last two decades, but there is still much work left to do. I think bosses must be more aware during the hiring process for top positions and give opportunities to solid female candidates in the running. This issue, however, extends beyond gender because caretaker and “breadwinner” roles have changed quite a bit. More flexibility must be extended to workers in general. Taking care of an aging parent can be just as much of a challenge as raising a child. A good boss today must be empathetic and flexible. Empathy goes a long way in building morale, loyalty and productivity. Plus, today’s technology truly allows executives to remain connected, even if they are in the stands watching a soccer game, or in the waiting room at the doctor’s office when children or other family members are ill.

Eduardo Padrón, president, Miami Dade College


As both a mum and an executive, this issue is close to my heart! Women face unique challenges in the workplace, but the best way employers can help them navigate the minefield of work-family balance is to be flexible. Every parent experiences an occasional “Mummy Tsunami” — a brief period where it seems impossible to juggle a million commitments at a time. Bosses who recognize that, and who allow working parents to modify their schedules when needed, can help mums (and dads) keep the rough patches from hurting their job performance.

Joanna Schwartz, CEO and co-founder, EarlyShares


The only thing I can think of is being more flexible with their schedules.

Dave Seleski, president and CEO, Stonegate Bank


Knowing the demands of business, it cannot be easy being a great mother and having a distinguished career. Bosses must recognize that a key criteria for great motherhood requires a work environment that continually fosters a distinctive balance of work and family life. Better counseling and definitions of success as a person/professional/corporate entity must be an integral part of corporate cultures.

Darryl K. Sharpton, president and CEO, The Sharpton Group


I think we all have choices — and then we have to accept the consequences of our choices. It depends what gives you satisfaction; having an ‘easy’ time was never one of mine, so I don’t think this is a relevant question. It’s more like, what do you want to achieve? What’s stopping you? What are you going to do about it? I do think bosses can offer more flexibility, as generally, that can help everyone, and I think employees have to be courageous, step up and say what they need as help when they do. And we have choices, so again, if what you want is not forthcoming, there are always other opportunities elsewhere.

Gillian Thomas, president and CEO, Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science


I think it is difficult for both men and women to raise a family in today’s world because we want to be there to raise children and be a great influence in their lives. And as technology plays a role in the workforce, we need to decide how families and individuals can take advantage of this technology by working from home so they can be more prominent in the child’s life as long as objectives are being met in the workplace. Finally, wage equality amongst both sexes is vital to a thriving household.

Paco Velez, CEO, Feeding South Florida


It’s a fact that companies with the greatest number of women in leadership roles perform better. Bosses can help women, and their companies, by making sure women are in leadership roles. Having said that, women need to exhibit confidence and ask for what they want and deserve, whether that is a raise, a promotion or flex time. One thing I love about being part of the fashion industry is how visible creative, powerful women can be. It provides a platform for inspiring others.

Alina Villasante, founder, Peace Love World clothing


Easy? I wouldn’t call it easy, but it has gotten much more common to see career-oriented family women — Marissa Mayer is a great example of this. Bosses should be more lenient and allow flexible schedules to accommodate working women, primarily those with younger children.

Marlon Williams, founder and CEO, Fenero


While we still have a long way to go, it’s hard to argue that it’s never been easier. Things like the Family and Medical Leave Act, telecommuting and job-sharing have set us on a path to improving work/family balance for women and men. There are more “stay at home” dads than ever, and traditional gender roles have become blurred. The responsibly for caring for children is probably more evenly distributed then any time in our history. Bosses need to recognize that either parent may at times be required to tend to the needs of their children.

John Wood, president, Amicon Construction

Source: Business Monday, Miami Herald